The Cherokee County Board of Supervisors held a pair of public hearings on the proposed authorization of two General Obligation Bonds on Tuesday.
The first public meeting was to approve a bond for the amount not to exceed $2,008,000 for the express purpose being to pay costs of refinancing the outstanding 10-year bond and extend the new bond to 20 years in the hopes of lowering payments for the Cherokee County Landfill for the pellet operation.
The second public meeting was to approve a bond for the amount not to exceed $450,000 for the express purpose being to pay costs of a new cell at the County Landfill to dispose of solid waste. That bond would be for eight years.
In May , the Cherokee Landfill Commission addressed the Cherokee County Board of Supervisors to see if they could roll the current 10-year General Obligation Bond taken out two years ago for the pellet plant located at the Cherokee Landfill, to a 20-year G.O.B.. That G.O.B. was for the amount of $2,920,000.
Currently, the Commission has eight years left on the G.O.B. and has been struggling with payment this fiscal year due to new stricter emissions requirements from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that make it harder to sell the pellets produced at the Cherokee County Landfill's Pellet Plant. With stricter emission requirements, fewer companies are able to use the product and that, plus the loss of several prospective contracts, also factor in for the plant's economics.
The Commission at that time wanted to extend the G.O.B. to 20-years to make easier payments. The Commission reported to the Board that they did not think that they could make the next payment that consists of both the interest ($77,951) and the principal ($245,000) that was due on June 1. Also, the Commission requested an additional $427,000 to pay for construction fees on a new cell currently being constructed at the Landfill, a balance that comes due on July 1.
To make both payments, it was recommended that the Landfill Commission take out a bridge loan (an estimated amount of $750,000) through one of the County's banks so those payments could be made and would be made back to the bank when the new fiscal year begins and or from the new G.O.B. designated for the pellet plant.
The Board heard concerns from the public on Tuesday in which questions were asked if the Board expected due diligent from the Landfill Commission. Supervisor Chairman Jeff Simonsen stated, "Things aren't going to be run the same way. There will be more oversight."
Other comments from the public requested that the Landfill Commission meeting agendas be posted and printed in the newspaper and marketing and business plan be developed for the Board's approval and to charge more for solid waste that is coming into Cherokee County Landfill from other counties. A letter of concern was respectfully submitted by Cherokee County citizen Ginger Walker that questioned the pellet plant's validity.
Jeff Bowen of the Cherokee Landfill Commission, an Aurelia City Council member, stated that he would like to see a full-time marketer for the pellet plant, he also stated, "There are good people out there trying to do good things. It's not fair for Donnie Pitts (Landfill Manager) to do all that he does, and then have to do even more for the pellet plant."
After the public hearings, the Board (absent Supervisor Terry Graybill who was unable to attend) held a roll call vote for the bonds and all voted in favor of the bonds.
In a previous story, Landfill Commission member Ken Slater and Pitts stated that the restriction that was handed down by the EPA has been recently lifted and one of their clients, Poet Ethanol Producer of Sioux Fall, S.D. will soon be increasing its orders of pellets since the restrictions have been lifted.
Simonsen stated, "I hope we're past this bump in the road."
In other business, the Board of Supervisors met briefly with Cherokee County Community Services Director Lisa Langlitz, who submitted here targeted case management projected cost report for the upcoming fiscal year.
Langlitz stated that she would be changing billing units from a case -by- case basis to a monthly billing basis.
Cherokee County Engineer Dave Shanahan submitted a wage authorization for office staff. No action was taken except a status change for Paula Ellis, who has been the receptionist at the Secondary Roads office. Ellis is already scheduled to receive a wage increase in July and the Board will take up the requested wage increase at that time.
Shanahan also submitted three other wage authorizations for seasonal lawn maintenance - one for Rodger Hultman for $14 per hour, and one each for Cory and Curtis Ege for $11 per hour.
The Board also voted on transferring funds ($712,500) from the Rural Betterment fund to the Secondary Roads fund.
The Board also reappointed Jean Howard as a Veterans Affairs Commissioner, a three-year term, Howard was appointed last year to fill a vacancy on the commission.
The Board also discussed the recently-vacated County Weed Commissioner position and appointed Cherokee County Engineer Dave Shanahan to that position.